The Best Way to Celebrate Halloween in Hawaii

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Preparing to get into the water, pumpkin in hand. Photo by Wake and Wander. 

This article originally appeared in Forbes. 

It was like being in outer space.

The innards of the pumpkin were floating around me, suspended in front of my face, frozen for a second in time. It was a majestic sight, beautiful, like the silent pulse of a jellyfish, the pieces of pumpkin at peace with the sea, the seeds all rotating in place.

Then the current came through, and the scene was swept away, like wipers on a windshield. My body was pushed a few feet along the bottom before I settled back down to the ocean floor, knees and toes upon the sand. I centered the pumpkin between my knees and drove the knife into it.

Every October in Hawaii, dive shops offer the chance to take part in a once-a-year tradition: Carving pumpkins underwater. I had seen it advertised before, along with other Halloween dive events, like a night dive to a “haunted” shipwreck. The idea of underwater pumpkin carving was always amusing to me, one of those things I just had to try. I had a lot of questions, starting with the most basic. Um, don’t pumpkins float?

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Carving a pumpkin underwater has its challenges. Photo by Wake and Wander Media.

Why yes, yes they do. When I first got in the water, the pumpkin was still whole, and it was like trying to bring a basketball underwater. The guides smiled and threw jabs at me. Bobbing at the surface, I wrangled my knife and cut a “lid” in the top, around the stem. I spun in place at the surface of the water as I cut the circle, eventually pulling the stem like the top of a cookie jar, allowing water to rush into the cavity. Now water logged, I put the pumpkin under my armpit, let the air out of my vest, and slowly descended below the surface.

I found out very soon that even when they are hollow, pumpkins still want to float. I reached the ocean floor, about forty feet down, and pulled out more of the inner flesh. But the second I let go of the pumpkin, it tried to take off toward the surface. I had to toss a two-pound dive weight inside to get it to stay put. Between the weight and the squeeze of my knees, I was able to stabilize the pumpkin and began cutting into it, breathing slowly, the bubbles oozing from my mouth.

Read the rest of this article on Forbes. 

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